Should one of your local veterinarians diagnose your cat as having feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), it's not the end of their life. With your help, your furry feline companion can live several more years comfortably. The disease is a slow growing virus that your cat can live with for years. Here is how this virus affects your cat and what you can to do to support them to continue to have a full life.
Living With a Suppressed Immune System
Like the HIV virus in humans, FIV affects your cat's immune system. It reduces your cat's ability to fight off even simple infections. The danger of FIV to your cat is the secondary infections they can get because of their reduced immune system response. A simple cold or scratch can become a major health threat.
Cats are good at concealing an illness or injury, so they may have a problem for days before you see any obvious symptoms. Your job is to watch your cat closely for any signs of a health problem, such as:
- fur that looks dull, rough, and easily develops mats
- loss of appetite and weight
- problems with the teeth or gums
- diarrhea and vomiting
- difficulty urinating
- coughing and sneezing
At the first sign of something suspicious, get your cat in to a medical clinic, such as the Riverside Pet Hospital.
Keeping Your Cat Free of Infections
There are several things you can do to minimize your cat's exposure to potential infections or to keep minor issues from becoming a major problem:
- Keep your cat indoors so they won't be exposed to other animals carrying a disease.
- Keep your cat away from screened-in areas such as a porch, screen door or window. They could come into contact with the saliva of another cat outdoors that is infected with a bacteria or virus.
- Have your cat spayed or neutered to remove the stress of their reproductive system on their body.
- Have your veterinarian recommend a high-protein, low-waste cat food that gives your cat the energy they need but is easier on their digestive system.
- Never feed your cat raw food to minimize the risk of a bacterial infection.
- Check your cat's mouth daily for redness, swelling or sores on the gums, cheeks and lips.
- Brush your cat daily and inspect their skin for open sores, abrasions or rashes. Remove any mats you find before they tighten against the skin and cause irritation.
- Use a preventative medication to keep fleas from biting your cat and causing an infection.